2008 presidential candidates may be forced to take a stand on gun control in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass murder, says the Associated Press. Many Democrats have been silent on an issue that contributed to and perhaps sealed their defeat in the 2000 presidential election when Al Gore called for gun registration. Top Republicans are trying to close ranks with their party’s conservative base, making gun control an unusually sensitive one for them, too, given their past liberal views.
Rudi Giuliani’s emphasis on state-by-state solutions to gun control contrasts with his past enthusiasm for a federal mandate to register handgun owners – an even stiffer requirement than registering guns. Giuliani as New York mayor and Mitt Romney, as Massachusetts governor, supported the federal ban on assault-type weapons, background checks on gun purchases, and other restrictions reviled by many gun-rights advocates. In 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton supported proposals for state-issued photo gun licenses, as well as a national registry for handgun sales. Said James Kessler, gun-control specialist at Third Way, a Democratic centrist group: “I don’t think that a candidate will be punished for supporting gun safety measures this time around.” Mass shootings have often been the catalyst for legislative action on gun control, with mixed results.